Technological advancements and significant evolutions in the needs and expectations of patients have led to marked shifts in healthcare. Now, telemedicine solutions offer providers a new way to serve their patients, supporting improved health outcomes while streamlining operations.
However, one thing that hasn't changed is the importance of patient privacy. This means that many standard virtual communication platforms simply aren't suitable for telehealth purposes. Although it may seem easier to rely on popular apps such as Skype or FaceTime, apps like these aren't equipped with the essential security features you - and your patients - need.
In order to safely and securely offer patients the option of telemedicine, HIPAA-compliant platform options are a necessity. But depending on where you are in your search for a telehealth solution, you may have certain questions, including:
How do you know if a telehealth platform is HIPAA-compliant?
What does it mean when a telemedicine platform is HIPAA-compliant?
Why is it important to choose a HIPAA-compliant telehealth app?
We'll be walking you through the most critical criteria to use when selecting a telemedicine solution, specifically focusing on why you want to make sure you're using one that's 100% HIPAA-compliant.
What Does "HIPAA-Compliant" Mean in Telehealth?
Technically, there isn't an official government auditing or accreditation process used to determine whether or not a company is HIPAA-compliant. But even so, there are many reasons for a company to be investigated or fined for non-compliance.
In simplest terms, there isn't an official agency currently handing out HIPAA-compliance certificates to any telehealth platform out there. That being said, any company that deals with any aspect of healthcare is required to "[i]mplement policies and procedures to prevent, detect, contain, and correct security violations," as well as conduct annual risk assessments to confirm compliance.
Providers and their telehealth platforms are deemed responsible for maintaining full compliance with HIPAA and any other applicable rules and regulations.
Why Do Providers Need a HIPAA-Compliant Solution for Telemedicine?
As a healthcare provider, you are well aware of the immense responsibility of safeguarding patient privacy. But exactly how important is it to make sure you're using a telehealth app that is compliant with HIPAA?
Look at it this way: HIPAA compliance isn't just an attractive feature in a telemedicine solution; it's an absolute non-negotiable.
Patient privacy and safety should always be a top priority.
A breach of protected health information (PHI) can negatively impact a patient's healthcare experience, putting their safety and mental health at risk while also undermining their trust in the healthcare system as a whole.
Nearly every healthcare provider would agree that the well-being of their patients is of the utmost importance. After all, one of the most common reasons a person chooses a healthcare profession is to help others. By using an insecure platform for telemedicine, you're actually putting your patients in harm's way, something that no ethical provider would ever want to do.
You can be held legally and ethically liable for any breaches that may occur.
Providers have a vital legal and ethical duty to make sure PHI is properly protected. In fact, the security of PHI is the primary focus of federal regulations such as HIPAA. Under HIPAA regulations, providers and/or companies can face serious penalties for breaches related to PHI.
There are both financial and criminal penalties for breaking the law's privacy and security rules:
Healthcare organizations (HCO) can pay up to $50,000 in fines per violation and up to $1.5 million per year.
Individuals can be fined up to $250,000 and be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Remember that even if the breach was unintentional, there will be consequences.
You may have seen the headlines covering companies charged with HIPAA violations and sentenced to significant penalties. Some of the biggest HIPAA settlement and penalty agreements run well into the millions.
Security breaches are a very real threat.
It's not uncommon for people to assume that cybersecurity issues are something only massive, multi-million dollar corporations have to deal with - but that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, cybercriminals constantly seek new targets, and nobody is safe.
According to research studies, the healthcare industry actually encounters more data breaches than any other sector. Since 2010, more than 250 million Americans have been impacted by healthcare data breaches. Whether you're operating a small, local practice or an expansive, statewide chain of healthcare facilities, it's a risk to be taken very seriously.
How to Identify a Telehealth HIPAA-Compliant Platform
The simplest way to pinpoint which telehealth apps are HIPAA-compliant is to do your research - if a company doesn't advertise as HIPAA-compliant, then they most certainly are not.
For example, UVO Health prioritizes being completely transparent with providers considering our telemedicine program. Right away, we make it clear that our app is HIPAA-compliant and utilizes the most advanced security and privacy features on the market. Not only does our platform excel in terms of usability and convenience, but it is also an industry leader for security.
In addition to the required HIPPA-compliance measures, UVO Health has gone above and beyond to be the only telehealth provider offering HIPPA-compliant recording as a feature. Patients and providers can make the most of every telehealth interaction and have a highly useful recording to refer back to if and when needed.
Venture into Telemedicine with a Platform You Can Trust
When you're ready to grow your practice and explore telehealth solutions, a HIPAA-compliant app is truly the only option. With UVO Health, you can make a confident and informed decision that provides the very best in telemedicine technology, benefiting you, your practice, and your patients.
For more information about how UVO Health has built one of the best telehealth platforms and most secure solutions available, contact our team today!
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